Product Type: Line 6 guitars and bass guitars
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Line 6 Spider III 150 Watt Stereo 2 x 12" Combo
Member Name: Ellendel
Line 6 Spider III 150 Watt Stereo 2 x 12" Combo
Advantages: Cheap per watt, some nice sounds at low volume, good speakers
Disadvantages: Big and heavy but rubbish at volume, expensive if only usable as practice amp, bad for DI recordin
I purchased this amp after leaving for University, around 5-7 years ago now. I had left my Marshall Valve half stack at home, and wanted something that took up considerably less space, and with which I could practice without upsetting my new hall-mates. As such, I decided to pick up a solid state amp.
Valve amps tend to produce more pure, seductive, tones, but they also need to be pushed to do so. Even a little ½ watt valve amp needs to be brought up to quite a significant volume before you can really hear the benefit.
I also wanted an amp that could be gigged if necessary, and a hundred and fifty watts of stereo power seemed more than appropriate for that challenge.
Usually, when buying guitar equipment, I would head on down to my local music shop for a play, but having tried out a Spider II many years previous, and quite enjoyed it, I decided to waste no time and took the plunge online.
Many years hence, and looking back, I regret this decision a little. Whilst my valve amps are still musically relevant today, the spider has begun to sound dated as the years have moved by. Reverbs have a clear artificiality to them at high settings, but are passable if not over used. Effects and delays have their own character, and are quite usable. At low volumes, this 150 watt amp sounds fun with some of the tone settings. Others are bizarrely functionless. One in particular features a pretty shoddy distorted harmonizer, that I personally can't imagine featuring in any viable recording.
The real problems arise however, when you crank this amp up, or try to use its direct recording functionality. The direct recording feature appears to contain no element of amp simulation, and so produces a dry and two dimensional signal. It sounds amateurish, and it will take you a lot of time, and effort in a software studio, to bring your sound up to an acceptable level. It also seems to apply a degree of compression, or at least gives the impression that it has. Hand movements across strings can be as loud as clear tones, and whilst this has a certain bar-room charm on the clean settings, this charm is more than lost when you are trying to lay down a tight high gain guitar solo, for the umpteenth time, in the middle of the night, and you have work the next morning.
You will want to throw this amp out the window. Don't. It's heavy, you might hurt yourself.
The problems that arise at high volumes are similar to those experienced during recording. Background noise is an absolute killer, and can also invade the spectrums of other instruments, making your "ensemble" sound messier than deserved. Tone can also become a little reedy and underwhelming.
In summary, there are some elements of this solid state amp that are laudible. I like some of the sounds at low volumes, and as a 10-15 watt starter, or practice amp, there would be a huge amount of value here. As a big, potentially professional, level amp, it is a dud. Better solid state options are available in software formats - if you have a laptop, or p.c, to run them on - and if you want a live performance amp, there are a number of full valve, or hybrid options, from Blackstar for example, that are likely to better meet your needs.
Perhaps none of the solutions above really meet my initial goal, which was to have one amp that could do everything with the minimum of compromises, at a low price. On that basis, perhaps the line 6 still has a place out there. Solid state sound does get better with every generation so, if you find yourself in my predicament, and without a powerful laptop, perhaps a newer Line 6 amp would be worth a look. Tech 21 amps are also well received, and I have heard excellent things about Vox valvestate amps. I'd recommend playing with these before making your decision, and also remembering that, like valve amps, solid state amps sound different when pushed. Ensure that you can use the amp, at volume, in the shop before buying, lest you find that a swan heard at lower volumes, returns to ugly duckling form once driven!
(Edit - I think Swans actually sound pretty horrendous, so maybe that's not the best metaphor!)
Summary: Good on paper, bad in practice
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